The Berklee Indian Ensemble's Grammy-Nominated Album Is A Cross-Pollination of Genres

The Berklee Indian Ensemble
The Berklee Indian EnsembleMike Ritter

The Grammy award is the music industry’s highest honor and was started in 1959 when it was known as the Gramophone award. The award originated in The United States, is presented by the Royal Academy, and is the equivalent of Academy awards for films and Emmy Awards for television success. The year was 1968 when the nation of India was immensely proud as Pandit Ravi Shankar made history by being the first Indian to win a Grammy Award for his album West Meets East in the Best Chamber Music Performance category. Over the years stalwarts of the Indian music industry such as Zakir Hussain, A.R. Rahman, Zubin Mehta, Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, and Ricky Kej have won this prestigious award.

Joining this start-studded list, The Berklee Indian Ensemble made its debut nomination at this year’s Grammys. They have been nominated in the Best Global Music Album category. The Berklee Indian Ensemble started out as just a class at Berklee College of Music in 2011 but has evolved to become one of the most happening global acts to emerge from Boston. Its founder is Annette Philip, an Indian Berklee alumna, and faculty member. The ensemble provides an open and inclusive creative space for musicians from all over the world to explore, study, interpret, experiment, and create music influenced by the rich and diverse tapestry that is Indian music today.

The Berklee Indian Ensemble has been nominated for their 2022 album Shuruaat (which means Beginning in Hindi). It has high-profile collaborations featuring iconic artists such as A. R. Rahman, Ustad Zakir Hussain, Shreya Ghoshal, Shankar Mahadevan, Vijay Prakash, Clinton Cerejo, and several others. Included within this shining roster are the Delhi-Based duo, Shadow and Light. It comprises talented vocalist and lyrcisit, Pavithra Chari, and a gifted sound engineer and keyboardist, Anindo Bose. The fusion duo collaborated on the track Dua. Rolling Stone India has hailed them as "the new faces of fusion music." The song explores the theme of the never-ending cycle of desire that pervades human existence.

Released in July, the album Shuruaat is the labor of love from the decade the ensemble spent performing in the U.S., India, and different parts of the world. The ensemble has created a global Indian sound with a cross-pollination of genres ranging from jazz, and prog-rock to Indian classical, and more. The 10-track album comprises reimagined versions of Tamil film songs, live performance recordings, two tributes to jazz-fusion pioneers Shakti and four original compositions created by members of the ensemble.

The Berklee Indian Ensemble 11-member professional band in 2021
The Berklee Indian Ensemble 11-member professional band in 2021THE WEEK

“So it’s been a couple of hours and I’m still very happy. The Berklee Indian Ensemble Shuruaat album has been nominated for Best Global Music Album. We’re 98 musicians and even more amazing engineers and all sorts of people who worked on this. It took a village to get this out and we could not be more grateful to everyone who considered us and made this possible. Lots more music coming.

Berklee Indian Ensemble Founder, Annette Philip

The Grammys are on the 5th of February,2023. We shall all be rooting for The Berklee Indian Ensemble to bring home the gilded gramophone.

To know more about the ensemble, click here.

You can listen to the album here.